8 of the best and 8 of the worst Justin Bieber songs of all time

cahlgrim@businessinsider.com (Callie Ahlgrim)
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Justin Bieber released his fifth studio album, "Changes," in February 2020.

Andrew Lipovsky/NBC/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images

  • Justin Bieber has been a recording artist since 2009 and has released seven No. 1 albums — the youngest solo artist in history to do so.
  • The singer's discography includes some iconic pop gems, like "Baby" and "Sorry."
  • However, Bieber's newest album "Changes" is full of missteps, like "Yummy" and "Running Over."
  • Insider weighed factors like listenability, lyrical quality, production value, and critical reception to come up with the eight best and eight worst songs of his career thus far.
  • Visit Insider's homepage for more stories.

That Justin Bieber is one of the biggest pop stars in the world is no fluke.

Since Bieber was discovered as a busking tween in Canada, he's consistently proved himself as one of our generation's best male vocalists. Now, over a decade later, he's the youngest solo artist in history with seven No. 1 albums. He lays claim to some of the best pop bangers of all time.

However, Bieber has misplaced his characteristic charm and flair on more than one occasion. 

Insider weighed factors like listenability, lyrical quality, production value, and critic reception to come up with the eight best and eight worst songs of the singer's career thus far, including tracks from his newest album. (Note: Songs from Bieber's Christmas album, "Under the Mistletoe," were not considered.)

"One Less Lonely Girl" is an essential piece of Bieber's discography.

justin bieber one less lonely girl

"One Less Lonely Girl" is the fifth track on "My World."

Justin Bieber/YouTube

"One Less Lonely Girl" perfectly epitomizes Bieber Fever, the charm and allure that made this floppy-haired tween a superstar.

I was 14 when this song was released — too old, in my mind, to unabashedly declare myself as one of Bieber's superfans. And yet, I would've given my left arm for him to serenade me with those honeyed vocals and his acoustic guitar.

"Baby" is one of the most iconic pop songs of our time.

baby justin bieber

"Baby" is the first track on "My World 2.0."

Justin Bieber/YouTube

We previously ranked "Baby" as one of the best songs from the past decade. Despite attempts from anti-pop critics and music snobs to bury its reputation, there's a reason we can all sing the chorus flawlessly at any given moment. If I type, "Baby, baby, baby, oh!" — you can't just read them as a set of generic words. You can't read them without hearing the precise melody in your head. That's impact.

"All That Matters" is R&Bieber at his best.

all that matters justin bieber

"All That Matters" is the second track on "Journals."

Justin Bieber/YouTube

"All That Matters" is the crown jewel of "Journals," Bieber's first R&B album, and it has everything that "Changes" is missing. With its hushed hook, minimal production, and elegant bass, this song pulses with sexual tension.

Although Bieber still had plenty of growing up to do, "All That Matters" perfectly highlighted the slightly douchey yet often endearing confidence of his 2013 persona.

"Where Are Ü Now" revived Bieber's career near-single-handedly.

where are u now justin bieber

"Where Are Ü Now" is the ninth track on "Skrillex and Diplo present Jack Ü."

Justin Bieber/YouTube

"Where Are Ü Now" was the perfect way to reintroduce Bieber after he had fallen out of public favor. It reminded everyone why we fell in love with his boyish charm and silken vocals in the first place.

More importantly, it made him vulnerable and likable. Bieber actually wrote the song as a moody piano ballad before sending it to Skrillex and Diplo — whose willingness to go full-throttle and break the rules turned it into an unexpected banger. It doesn't sound like anything else; Bieber himself described the song as "wrong-right."

"Sorry" is a perfect song.

justin bieber sorry video

"Sorry" is the fourth track on "Purpose."

Justin Bieber/YouTube

Put simply, "Sorry" is one of the best pop songs of all time. We previously ranked it No. 20 on our list of the best songs of the 2010s and No. 1 on our list of Bieber's top 10 hits.

After years of public scandals and nurturing his "bad boy" image, Bieber apologized in the best possible way: with a song that can (and will) be played at clubs, during road trips, on repeat while you're in the shower, and at the peak of any good party until the end of time.

Put simply, "Sorry" is Bieber's ultimate triumph thus far. It's both endearing and challenging, both timeless and totally of-the-moment. As Rolling Stone's Rob Sheffield writes, "Bieber is the comeback kid, with 'Sorry' as his theme song."

"Love Yourself" is deliciously petty.

love yourself justin bieber

"Love Yourself" is the fifth track on "Purpose."

Justin Bieber/YouTube

Once Bieber had built up some good will with the golden promo trio ("Where Are Ü Now," "What Do You Mean?" and "Sorry") for his 2016 album "Purpose," he enjoyed the fruits of his labor with a hefty dose of self-love and attitude, snarled gracefully over a deceptively sweet melody.

We should all be thankful that Bieber's cowriter Ed Sheeran deemed "Love Yourself" as too "harsh" to sing himself; he could have never done it justice.

"Company" is one of the brightest highlights from Bieber's best album, "Purpose."

justin bieber company

"Company" is the sixth track on "Purpose."

Justin Bieber/YouTube

"Company" is both one of Bieber's best songs and one of his most underrated. Somehow, it isn't mentioned even once in the "Purpose" album reviews from Rolling Stone, Pitchfork, or Consequence of Sound. I guess it was somehow overshadowed by the sheer number of hits on the album, but it's better than most of them (save for "Sorry").

It boasts the perfect blend of spacious sounds, slick beats, and sparkling effects — not to mention one of the most intoxicating hooks of all time.

Asking to hop on a remix of "Despacito" was a true stroke of genius.

despacito remix

RBMG/Def Jam Recordings

"Despacito" is, by far, the most commercially successful track with Bieber's name attached. And while he may not know how to actually sing it, he gets points for recognizing the song's power and asking to be a part of it — thus becoming the unlikely harbinger of reggaeton's reckoning. And the music industry is genuinely better off for it.

As I've previously written, the power and cultural significance of "Despacito" simply cannot be overstated. The remix became the first mostly Spanish-language song in Grammy history to be nominated for record of the year and song of the year. And as HuffPost's Carolina Moreno pointed out, its losses in both categories were completely inexplicable.

"By nearly every measure, 'Despacito' was the world's biggest song of 2017," Moreno writes. "It not only broke nearly every record under the sun, but it finally made clear to the U.S. mainstream market the true power of Latin music on a global stage."

The hopelessly cheesy "Fall" is one of Bieber's worst ballads ever.

justin bieber believe

Island Def Jam

If "One Less Lonely Girl" is the heartthrob ballad done right, "Fall" is the opposite.

As Hermione Hoby wrote for The Guardian at the time, "The lachrymal tween fanbase still needs feeding, hence the godawful mawkishness of 'Fall,' with all its guff about angels who forgot to fly."

"Beauty and a Beat" is extremely annoying.

justin bieber beauty and a beat

"Beauty and a Beat" is the 10th track on "Believe."

Justin Bieber/YouTube

"Beauty and a Beat" could be catchy if you only heard it once or twice, but any more than that, and it becomes extremely grating. Even just the name of the song is annoying.

It's also fairly off-putting to hear a 30-year-old Nicki Minaj rap about wanting to hook up with a barely-18-year-old Bieber.

"PYD" has aged horribly.

r kelly

Natasha Moustache/Getty Images

Many of R. Kelly's collaborators have recently felt compelled to disown him, thanks to the damning Lifetime docuseries "Surviving R. Kelly," but allegations of sexual misconduct have followed Kelly for much of his career.

When Bieber released the Kelly-featuring single "PYD" in 2013, the R&B singer had already faced accusations of child pornography and relationships with underage girls for decades. To this day, Bieber has declined to address or apologize for the collaboration.

Bieber can't pull off how bizarre "Backpack" is.

journals justin bieber

Def Jam Recordings

Spin's Brandon Soderberg called this song "bizarro, futuristic girl-as-E.T. codependency pop," but I think that's being too generous.

Even if the central metaphor somehow worked — Bieber is comparing his lover to a tiny alien, I think? — his desperate request to "stay in my backpack forever" is both nonsensical and somewhat concerning. Literally the whole point of E.T.'s story is that he had to return home, but that his love for Elliott would remain! I don't think holding the tiny alien against his will would've had the same emotional effect.

"I Don't Care," Bieber's collaboration with Ed Sheeran, is underwhelming and overrated.

ed sheeran justin bieber i don't care

"I Don't Care" is the sixth track on Sheeran's "No.6 Collaborations Project."

Ed Sheeran/YouTube

"I Don't Care" isn't exactly a bad song, it's just deeply underwhelming — especially considering how poignant their previous collaboration had been, with Sheeran penning "Love Yourself" and Bieber bringing it to life.

By contrast, "I Don't Care" is generic and lyrically uninspired. It's also deeply unconvincing! You want me to believe that two of the biggest pop stars in the world feel like outsiders at a party? Sure. 

"Yummy" suffers from an irritating and unimaginative chorus.

justin bieber yummy

"Yummy" is the fifth track on "Changes."

Justin Bieber/YouTube

Whoever told Bieber "Yes, you should repeat the word 'yummy' over and over!" and "No, it's not cringey at all!" is not his friend.

It's a shame, because the "Yummy" verses are actually quite pleasant, but the chorus completely ruins the song. Plus, it feels as if Bieber heard the keyboard chord progression in Childish Gambino's "Feels Like Summer" and told his producer, "Copy that, but don't make it obvious."

"Running Over" probably features the worst guest verse of Bieber's career, thanks to Lil Dicky.

lil dicky

Andrew Toth/Getty Images

That "Running Over" stands out from the rest of the songs on "Changes" is not a compliment. Most of the album is head-bobbing music: slightly dull, generally pleasant, well-suited to waft in the background as you do something else.

"Running Over" barrels into you like the sudden, assaulting smell of garbage as you walk down the street on a sunny day. Suddenly, you're subjected to Lil Dicky rapping lines like "Post intercourse when you walk by (Ass, ass, ass) / More buns than a Shop Rite." Dare you not to gag.

"Confirmation" is deeply forgettable.

justin bieber changes album

Def Jam Recordings

"Confirmation" is fine. But when you're Justin Bieber, and you've got songs like "All That Matters," "Sorry," and "Company," this kind of snooze-fest just isn't going to cut it. You'll forget what "Confirmation" sounds like as soon as it's over.

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